This is about how, at a very challenging time for my Brother Neil and myself, we found the support and compassion from Guy and his crew at ARC - Animal Rescue Centre based in Ottery St Mary, Devon.
The story starts with my brother and I receiving some devastating news on a Sunday morning.
Our beloved step father Brian died on 25th March 2018 and who had been fighting a long battle after having Leukaemia going back 9 years. A short time in remission then another attack. Having stem cell transplant which then as it happens brings on 'Graft versus Host' disease (GvHD). This is the battle where the graft then attacks the host. It can affect various parts of the body and for Brian it did, and then some.
In the end it attacked Brians lungs and he lost his fight.
He was a kind, caring, gentle man who We never ever saw a bad side.
We miss him dearly.
That was the 25th March.
On the day Brians health deteriorated, our Mum Chris, who had her own health issues for many years, who fought her own battle, who never complained but carried on to be with her loving and loved husband was given the news that Brian would not to last the day.
The news for Mum was too much. She suffered a heart attack that moment and another shortly after.
With doctors who tried to assess the damage, Mum was just too sick to survive. My brother stayed beside Brian when he died. I then joined my brother next to our Mums bedside. We were broken with the knowledge that Brian had gone. We then were faced with the difficult decision to end the support for Mum. We wanted desperately to have one last talk and hug with her but were also struggling with the thought that we would have to tell her Brian had gone. We did not have the chance to talk to Mum.
There we stayed until the following night where she finally left her boys to be with her husband.
We are comforted in the knowledge they left together. Their love for each other was so strong that one could not have lived without the other. Our Mum died of a broken heart.
When Neil and I tried to make some sense of what we had experienced in that short time, we had to gather ourselves. In our minds we had to get back to Mum and Brians home. We had to get back to take care of Lou Lou their dog.
Lou Lou was a Patterdale terrier, madder than a bag of frogs but a very gentle natured animal that needed lots of attention. We were lucky that during our time at hospital that our friends had made several visits to look after Lou Lou, feed her and take her for a walk. They are now much fitter people :-)
Neil and I came to the conclusion that even though she was a lovely dog that we just didn't have the means or time she deserved to look after her ourselves.
It was decided that we would seek help and look to re-home her.
When we returned to the house in the early hours after leaving the hospital, Lou Lou pined for Brian. She wondered about looking for a hint of her owner. I was trying so hard not to get attached. It was very hard. I picked a bed to lie in and Lou Lou jumped and wedged herself against me for reassurance.
I spent the rest of the night searching for local dog rescue charities. I found quite a few online but the one that stuck out was ARC. I found a video on facebook with a chap talking about the dogs they currently had. He sounded like a very nice person, very caring. I liked him before I met him.
Neil and I the next morning got up. We had a cup of tea, I explained that I had found ARC and called the number. I had spoken to Guy. I explained to Neil how nice Guy had been on the phone when I told him what Neil and I had been through. I told Guy about Lou Lou and without any hesitation Guy comforted me by saying we could take the dog to him, that he would find a good home, also that it wouldn't be long before new owners would be found to love the dog again. I can't tell you what a nice chap he was.
Neil and I gathered all of Lou Lous toys, bedding, food and anything else. We took her to the back of the car where we had her cage. She jumped in, very excited and probably because she thought we were going on an adventure. I had a lump in my throat and a pain in my chest.
We drove around Devonshire countryside, tired and cold on a terribly damp day, and, the day after we lost our loved ones.
We arrived at ARC and met Guy. And as I felt on the phone, he was a very nice person. He helped us deal with something that could have been much more painful to deal with and for this reason I feel we should give something back. I acknowledge the hard work all the guys do at ARC. I acknowledge the wonderful way they carry out that work.
To you all at ARC, for making a terrible time that much easier for Neil and I, thank you so much for your help, support, compassion.
Matt, Neil, Brian and Chris
It may not be much, but if you could send a little bit towards ARC it may make the next person who needs some support feel like Neil and I do.
Thank you for reading this, I appreciate your time.
In Memory of Chris and Brian Tolcher
Supporting ARC who cared & re-homed a beloved Dog for ARC ANIMAL RESCUE CENTRE because In a difficult time they helped with compassion
We rescue and re-home unwanted dogs to provide rescue, relief and re-homing
Charity Registration No. 278696